There is simply no way that this decision was in American interests. Which raises the question: if the President directs action that is so plainly not in American interests, who carries it out? I mean, if you’re the Secretary of Defense, and you get the order to burn the Kurds, is that something you can in good conscience do?
Pompeo is the guy I have my eye on.
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QUESTIONS: RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ASSAD AND “THE KURDS”
I can try, but i don’t know anything about local culture stuff which is super involved and complex with multiple overlapping layers of affiliations, but pretty much what you’d expect the relationship between a Ba’athist dictatorship (of the proletariat… not.) and a liberal democratic regime in rebellion against it. Maybe a little bit more antipathy because the Kurds represent not just a rebel population, but also a new form of state and politics the survival of which would be a threat to all the strongmen in the region.
Bear in mind that Assad is, along with other leaders in the region, is the kind of guy who looks at Stalinist totalitarian regimes and thinks, “Y’know, I could do that.” He’s a wanna/be Grand Moff Tarkin with bad facial hair, and his opponents are just as diverse.
So, from Assad’s POV, there are allies in Russia and Iran (I’m not always clear what Assad gets from Iran; anyone here know? I feel like I knew but now forget.). And then there are the rebel opposition that come in two major flavors: SDF and SNA (Syrian National Army is their latest brand, trying to bring steadily more organization to the factions that are not aligned with the Kurds.
So basically Assad thinks they’re all rebel scum, just in different flavors. Assad opposes the SNA because they want jihad and (depending on the country—some only want to take over the country or to gain independence, but that strategic goal is held by fewer and fewer of the SNA militias it would appear.) to take over the world country—or as much of it as they can. Assad opposed the Kurds because they want liberal democracy, and also they are an obstacle to regaining oil revenue which has been cut off because of he civil war. SNA wants to be ISIS. They both pose threats to Assad’s regime, as exemplified by the civil war, eh?
Finally, Syria and Turkey have not been at war, but each has its problems with stability (obviously) which makes them ornery with each other (also should be obvious by now) Syria tries not to provoke Turkey because Turkey is one of he largest armies in the world and would hurt them bad. Also, not a lot of people know this, but the national sport of both Syria and Turkey is “coup.” True story.
Ultimately, Assad’s Syria doesn’t have good relations with people trying to rebel, which undermines their territorial integrity and disrupts their economy and so forth.
Except that, in the case of Assad’s SAA and the SDF, they’re now standing shoulder to shoulder with each other. Which is fucking insane. Dogs and cats, man. Dogs and cats.
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QUESTIONS: HOW HOMOGENOUS A POPULATION ARE THE KURDS?
Yeah, that’s a very good point. Failure to recognize, in Iraq for example, that the people were tribal which meant a whole different layer of relationship structures was a big problem with the attempt at regime change; failure to dig down to the grassroots to understand the factions makes pursuing collective goals more difficult if not doom the attempt to failure. Huge problem in Iraq; it would be cool if some of the vets had any insight into this.
I haven’t gotten as close to as granular understanding of the situation on the ground as I think you’d need for some of this. I mean, there are like 30 SNA militias each with their own name and regimental patch (Is that the right term?) and flag. And looking up fucking flags to identify who is in pictures sucks.
Basically, I’ve gotten as far as exploring how different spellings and languages (English, Arabic, Turkish, and Kurdish are the four I’ve concentrated on; google translate is amazing.) reveal different subsets of the larger conversations. It’s fascinating, but yeah, I don’t have that level of depth of knowledge of the region.